The statistics that make journalists look silly and Arsenal’s position even more exciting


By Tony Attwood

No one can blame fans for getting over-excited, jumping up and down a lot and getting their facts wrong.   But football journalists are PAID (yes bizarre though it might seem not only are they given free entry to grounds and refreshments and really good seats that can cost thousands of pounds a year), they get PAID for the pleasure.

So we surely have a right to expect them to get the basics right.  But no, what do we find…

 “Never before have they won five consecutive league matches,” says a piece in the Telegraph.  And of course, Arsenal have.   Such as at the start of last season…


Date Match Result Score
05 Aug 2022 Crystal Palace v Arsenal W 0-2
13 Aug 2022 Arsenal v Leicester City W 4-2
20 Aug 2022 AFC Bournemouth v Arsenal W 0-3
27 Aug 2022 Arsenal v Fulham W 2-1
31 Aug 2022 Arsenal v Aston Villa W 2-1


What I think the writer is trying to say is, “Never before have they won five consecutive league matches at the start of the calendar year,” which might be true – although I’ve not checked all the way back to the 19th century.

But what those of us who can think beyond newspaper headlines know, is this fantastic run is not only making up for the awful Premier League form of December in which Arsenal won one, drew one and lost three (goal difference four goals for and six against), Arsenal are doing it in style.

And although it means our league position is not as good as it was after 25 games last year, it is sneaking closer.


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 2023 25 19 3 3 56 23 33 60
2 Arsenal 2024 25 17 4 4 58 22 36 55


Yes we are five points worse off now than then, and of course that is the key factor, but Arsenal this season have scored two more goals than Arsenal last season by this point, and have conceded one fewer.   And that achievement is built on a run last season that was considered by many to be Arsenal’s best since 2003/4.

Of course more than anything I want to see Arsenal win the league, and be there to celebrate it, but if I have to take second best then I want this second-best to be an improvement on the second-best of last season.

What Arsenal have still not been able to get rid of are the “dips” in form that I raved about last season and earlier this season (that one win in five league games at the end of last year, and the one win in five in May at the end of last season).

But this time the dip has been thrust aside with power and vigour, and if we have to have a dip, then at least let us push it out the window in some style.

However, it is not just Arsenal winning that makes me walk around all day and dance half the night with a stupid smile on my face.   It is headlines like:

Shocking stat shows why Arsenal need to sign new striker,

which was published on 7 January this year.   And not to be outdone, the Sun’s

“Five strikers Arsenal should sign to solve goalscoring woes “…

which in its normal stupid copycat style came out two days later.

There were loads more but it would be too boring to post them all here.   The simple fact is, both a total lack of perspective in the footballing media in this country and a complete lack of understanding of what Arsenal in particular (and indeed most clubs in general) are seeking to do, is the fundamental of footballing journalism in England.

But we can note that between 18 February and 1 April last season Arsenal won seven consecutive league games scoring 23 goals.  In the past five games this season Arsenal have obviously won five consecutive games scoring 21 goals.   

But more than just scoring goals… once again Arsenal are spread around the players more than is the case with other clubs.   Which means that as and when injuries come along Arsenal are far less likely to suffer a decline, than when a top scorer in another club is injured.

And Arsenal are still doing it all without resorting to the sort of behaviour that sees the club pick up multiple yellow cards.   Here’s the abbreviated card chart (incorporating cards for all behaviours) for our nominated “big seven” this season, also showing possession statistics.

The “yellow position” is the club’s position in the yellow card chart for all 20 PL clubs.


Yellow position Team Yellow Red Possession%
1 Chelsea 78 3 58.7%
5 Newcastle United 58 0 53.3%
7 Tottenham Hotspur 57 4 60.3%
9 Manchester United 56 1 51.2%
16 Liverpool 46 5 60.0%
19 Manchester City 39 2 65.7%
20 Arsenal 38 2 61.1%


Arsenal have fewer yellow cards than anyone else, and have the second highest percentage level of possession.   Rather encouraging statistics all round I’d say.

4 Replies to “The statistics that make journalists look silly and Arsenal’s position even more exciting”

  1. Just for the fun, you’ve got Tim Sherwood, the mega galactic most successfull manager of the country and fabulous expert, who finds ways to criticize Saka because he feels the penalty was not well shot… seriously ?

    Whichever way it goes they cannot help themselves …. just pathetic.

  2. I thought I’d have a look at the stats for the last five games, which as we all know have gone played 5 and won 5, and compare them to the previous 5 games which went Won 1, Lost 3, Drew 1, to see what has changed.

    First the defence comparing the last 5 matches (first number) with the previous 5 matches (second number):

    Shots Faced: 44 compared with 50.

    So, a slight improvement from 5 per game down to 4.5 per game.

    On Target: 10 compared with 14.

    So, another improvement from almost 3 on target down to just 2 on target per game.

    Goals Conceded: 2 compared with 6.

    So, this is the biggy. A massive improvement from conceding over a goal per game, down to conceding under half a goal per game.

    From the 14 shots we conceded that were On Target in those previous 5 games, almost half of them, 6 to be precise, hit the back of the net.

    Why was that? Bad luck? Poor goalkeeping? I’m not sure. Most likely a bit of each, but there is no doubt conceding so many goals from such a relatively low amount of shots on target was unusual.

    Whatever it was, there is no doubt something changed. Yes, we have reduced the amount of shots on target per game from almost 3 to 2, which is obviously good, the massive change is in how many of those OT shots have hit the back of our net. We’ve gone from conceding 6 goals from 14 shots OT, or put another way almost 1 in 2 OT shots going in, to conceding just 2 goals from 10 On Target, or put another way 1 in 5 OT shots hitting the back of our net. Actually, because the Liverpool goal was an OG, in reality we’ve conceded just the 1 goal from the 10 OT shots.

    So, quite a turn around in fortune. From conceding a goal with every other OT shot, to conceding just 1 from 10. A remarkable turn around.

    Why is that?

    Again, is it luck? Good goalkeeping? Again, a bit of each I suspect. Whatever it is, it is a remarkable turn around in fortunes.

    Now looking at our offensive stats:

    Shots executed: 96 compared with 94. Or, 19 per game compared to 18.8 per game.

    So, there is almost no difference between how many shots we have manufactured in the last 5 matches compared to the previous 5. In fact, given the nature of the opposition in the previous 5 matches, which included Liverpool and Villa away as well as Brighton at home, it is arguable the previous 5 matches total of 94 shots is more impressive.

    Shots On Target: 35 compared to 27. Or, 7 per game compared to 5.4 per game.

    So, a significant improvement in our shot accuracy. Around a 30% improvement in fact, taking us from 1 in 3.5 of our shots OT to 1 in 2.7 of our shots OT.

    Goals Scored: 21 compared with 4. Or, 4.2 goals per game compared to 0.8 goals per game.

    As you can see, this is the game changer, literally. We’ve gone from scoring with just 1 in 7 of our OT shots, to scoring with 1 in 1.66 or our OT shots. Or put another way, we’ve gone from scoring with around 14% of our OT efforts to scoring with over 70% of our OT efforts.

    I think you’ll agree, this is another remarkable turn around in our fortunes. But why?

    Well I’m sure I don’t know. Players hitting form? Luck? Again, I suspect a bit of each.

    What I do draw from these stats is that despite the criticism we were getting during that poor run we were actually PLAYING very well. Arteta hadn’t suddenly become a bad manager as many had suggested, including the usual suspects on here. Our tactics were spot on. We were dominating the ball in those 5 games as much as we have been in these last 5 games. We were creating chances at the same rate over both sets of fixtures. Yes, we were conceding slightly more chances, but given the opposition that is not surprising.

    Unforetuneately for us our opponents were scoring with a disproportionately high amount of their OT efforts. Almost 50% in fact. Whilst at the same time we were scoring with a disproportionately low amount of our OT efforts. Under 15% in fact. It was the perfect storm.

    The fact is we were actually playing very well. If we continued dominating matches in this way it would have to come good in the end. And come good it has, and how.

    I do hope those that so quickly turned on Arteta and the team learn from this, but alas I doubt it very much. As soon as we lose another match or 2 we’ll see the same posters back, telling us how much better they are at managing than Arteta is. Of course they are.

  3. OT,

    just read an interesting piece, highlighting that after 210 games in the PL, Saka had slightly better stats then Ronaldo at the same milestone.

    Fascinating prospect…. just hope he stays there for years to come, records to break and titles to win !

  4. Mikel Arteta has implied he prefers the goals to come from across the team, as reliance from an out and out striker will receive marked attention from the opposition. This however is not to say a striker will not be incoming? Look at Saka, the attention he receives by rotational fouling and sheer thuggery from inferior players. You win or lose as a team, and MA has built an incredible team spirit.

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